I think a lot of times when people become interested in skincare it can be a little overwhelming, there’s a huge amount of information and it can be pretty confusing. When I got into skincare I think it took me around a week to fully understand and try to attempt a skincare routine, so I wanted to make a little guide for anyone who’s interested in skincare that summarised how to perhaps start a skincare routine.
Obviously you don’t have to follow this, this is just some things that may help but if you want to do something completely different than that’s great to!
*Note* I’m going to have some referral/affiliate links on this blog post!! But you don’t have to use them I’ll put affiliate links with a * and also include non affiliate links for the items!!
1) What are your skin concerns?
I think the first thing to think about is what you want to change about your skin! When I started my skin was dry, I had inflammatory acne, dark spots and hyperpigmentation. But the most pressing issues for me was the dry, uncomfortable skin and the painful acne that I had, so I wasn’t to focused on trying to fade my dark spots or hyperpigmentation, so therefore I focused on products that would help fix these issues.
Your skin concerns may be completely different to mine, you might have a lot of redness, or it might be fine lines. Or you might not find some of these to be skin concerns, e.g. you might not want to fade dark spots because you don’t mind, the same with wrinkles! Once you’ve decided what issues you want to change then you can start thinking about products.
2) What are the essentials?
There are some products that I think every single skincare routine requires. Those products are cleansers, exfoliator , moisturiser and sun screen. Because we all have different skin types I’m not going to recommend any product and claim that they’re universally good for everyone, do your research and figure out what you think will suit your skin the best.
I’m a huge believer of doing a double cleanse. A double cleanse is when you remove the dirt, makeup and spf using an oil cleanser (or a balm cleanser) and then follow it up with another type of cleanser like a foam cleanser, or a cream cleanser. The reason I believe cleansing to be an extremely important step is because you need to start your skincare routine with a clean face. There are amazing serums out there but if they can’t get absorbed because of clogged pores they won’t be able to do anything. Also just having make up/dirt on your face will lead to breakouts that can cause scarring, pigmentation, inflammation and dark spots!
There are tons of oil cleansers that are popular! Currently I’m using the Body shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter. I really like it, but it is strongly fragrances so if you are sensitive to that then I won’t recommend. Another cleanser that people love is Banila Co Clean it Cleanser, it’s meant to be really good at removing makeup and it’s gentle on the skin too, however I haven’t tried it myself so please research before using it! If you don’t want to use an oil there are cleansing gels and waters, I’ve tried the La Roche-Posay Make-up Remover Micellar Water Gel, I found that while it didn’t dry my skin out, on days I wore more makeup it did take a lot of effort to remove make up but if you wear very little to no make up this should be really good!
When looking for a second step cleanser, you want something that is SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) free, I’ve talked about this in my dry skin tips blog post, sodium lauryl sulfate will strip your skin from too many oils which will lead to dehydrated skin, other possible ingredients to avoid is denatured alcohol (especially if its high up the list) and fragrance. Another important issue with cleansers is that they need to be at a suitable pH, you want a pH that is around 5.5 since that is most close to healthy skin pH level and as it will protect you from acne causing bacteria (if you want to find out more about pH and skincare here’s a really excellent blog post!). The only cleanser that I’ve used that meets all these requirements is the COSRX low pH good morning cleanser* (or here) I’m planning on doing a review for this later on however I really like this cleanser, it even has BHA in it and for the price you get so much product too!!
There are two types of exfoliators, physical and chemical. I prefer to use chemical exfoliators because they remove dead skin cells, they can be very effective in brightening dull skin and making skin smooth without being too abrasive and causing any damage to my skin. Here’s a good post about their differences!
There are physical exfoliants that aren’t too abrasive, one of them is the Skinfood black sugar wash off mask* (sugar is a really good physical exfoliant since it isn’t too large) many people swear by this and while I personally haven’t used it (so I would deffo do more research!) it is sitting in my amazon basket waiting for payday. Physical exfoliation should be done 1 or 2 times a week max.
Chemical exfoliation uses either BHA or AHA. BHA is more suited for oily skin while AHA is more suited for dry skin (click here or here for more info). You can use these daily, but if you’re only just starting to use chemical exfoliators then I would definitely start by slowly adding it into your routine (maybe once a week, then twice a week and so on until your skin becomes adjusted to it). Chemical exfoliators can cause a purging stage where some people breakout for the first week or so but then it should stop.
When choosing a chemical exfoliator there is quite a bit of research do it, such as what type of AHA do you want to use? What about the strength? When are you going to use it? and that’s kind of the most important thing in skincare, you need to do a bit of research, especially at the beginning. There are loads of chemical exfoliators, e.g. Paula’s choice, the Ordinary, Cosrx and other Korean brands do them too.
Moisturisers are important since they seal in moisture and can also hydrate! While currently I usually use my serums to hydrate my skin, while I was building up my skincare routine I was using just my moisturiser for both function, while this was slightly drying it wasn’t too uncomfortable especially since me just taking care of my skin was helping extremely. Currently I’m using the COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All in one cream* (or here), I’ve been using this cream for the past few days but I think I may be falling in love, the cream has this extremely stringy and sticky texture however when you apply it it forms a lovely barrier between your skin and the environment, I recommend it to people who have drier skin types. I’ve also talked a little bit more about moisturisers in my how to deal with dry skin blog post.
Sun screen is the most important step in your morning skincare routine, it is even more important when/if you start using any actives that may cause photo sensitivity. Sun screen protects your skin from UV-A and UV-B radiation, this prevents damage to your skin cells, it also prevents any extra hyperpigmentation and early signs of ageing, but the most important thing is that SPF protects you from skin cancer. There is a common myth that people with darker skin tone don’t require sun screen (that even I used to believe), however this is not the case, everyone, doesn’t matter how dark their skin is, needs to wear sun screen! It is also important that you wear at least 1/4th of a teaspoon of sunscreen on your face and then another 1/4th of a teaspoon for your neck, a lot of us don’t put that much on our face so re-applying is vital too!!
Finding a good sunscreen can be hard as they can be too oily, too mattifying or they can cause a white cast which might make us want to apply less of it. I actually had a sunscreen that dried my skin out and had a terrible white cast but I recently switched to the COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++* (or here), and I found that there is literally no white cast once it is fully absorbed and it really moisturising without feeling greasy.
3) Trial the products
After you have found products that you think you will like add them slowly into your current skincare routine, you should also do a patch test (where you apply it on part of your body before putting it on your face to see if it will cause any reaction, here’s some more info about that). Stick to trying one new product each time so that if there is a reaction you’re able to realise which one is causing it! Patience (which a lot of the time I don’t have) is important, once you’re sure something won’t cause an allergic reaction, break you out or clog your pores then you can start to add something else in your routine.
I think understanding what is in skincare products is important, that doesn’t mean you need to know what every single ingredient does and it’s chemical properties but just be aware of some of their functions. Also it’s important to know how your skin reacts to those ingredients, for example I’ve started to realise that witch hazel and my skin just don’t get along, not only does it dry my skin out it also causes break outs so now I tend not to use anything that contains witch hazel. Other ingredients that can sensitise some people are alcohol and fragrance. Also while trying skincare products you might find that there are certain ingredients that really get along with your skin, you might then want to try out more product with them. You can also look at what ingredients are best suited for your skin type and your skin concerns.
5) Adding toners, serums, masks
After you have a basic routine and have made sure they aren’t breaking you out, you can start adding serums, masks, toners, this is where you can add items to fix your skin concerns, for example if you have dry skin you could add a hyaluronic acid or another humectant. For dark sports you could add a vitamin c serum etc etc. This stage also requires research, looking into the ingredients and reading some reviews! But remember that you still should trial each product out and make sure that they aren’t causing any reactions.
Throughout this post I think I’ve mentioned how much research is important in skincare, I think being aware of what you’re putting on your face is important, while it does sound like a lot I found that it saved me a lot of time in the long run as I wasn’t buying products that were ineffective or made me break out. Throughout this blog post I’ve linked other resources where I found information and that’s important too, it’s important to do your own research and look into products, and just because one person likes a product you may not because we all have different skin types, we all have different things that may irritate our skin and we all have different skin concerns. You should do your own research when it comes to what products to buy especially when you’re just starting your skin care routine because you know your skin best, not some random blogger (me!) who has never met you! So research, research and after that do a little bit more research!
And that’s it! I think there’s a lot more that I could add do this but I don’t want to make it too long and this is just meant to be very basic outline! I hope you have